Archive for the 'spinach' Category


Spinach and Feta Strata

I’ve begun cooking my way through Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day. I LOVE this cookbook. I’m determined to make everything in it, from the little quinoa patties to the honey and rose water tapioca. Like most of Heidi’s recipes, this spinach and feta strata makes you feel full of energy. It’s chock full of good things. It tastes great. On top of that, it’s quick and easy.

Every now and then, an occasion arises when an impressive breakfast is needed, something that’s pre-made but also fresh from the oven. It’s been nice these past two weeks NOT having one of those occasions. It was just Jeff, Gabi and me pattering around the house. But because I consider the two of them worthy of above-average breakfasts, I popped this in the oven over Memorial Day weekend and it fed us for two days .

Another thing I love about this is you make it the night before. As you sleep, the bread soaks up the eggy milk mixture. I love the spinach in this, but you could also use chard. The feta blends in nicely, adding a bit of saltiness. To top it off, I snipped some fresh herbs growing outside and crumbled them on top.

Absolutely delish.

Spinach and Feta Strata
slightly adapted from Super Natural Every Day

Zest from 1 lemon, grated
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups milk
6 large eggs
3 cups day-old whole wheat bread cubes (1/2-inch)
2 cups finely chopped spinach or chard
3/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped

Drizzle a little olive oil in a 9 x 9-inch baking dish (or equivalent). Sprinkle the pan with the lemon zest.

In a medium bowl, whisk the olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper with a splash of the milk. Whisk in the rest of the milk and eggs.

Put the bread in the prepared baking dish and top with the spinach and half of the feta. Gently toss this with your hands so that the spinach and feta mix with the bread. Slowly pour the egg mixture over the bread mixture and sprinkle with the remaining feta. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, preheat oven to 350°F with a rack in the top third of the oven.

Bake the strata uncovered for 45 to 55 minutes, until the egg is set in the middle and the sides are browned. You may need to cut into the middle for a test to see that it’s done. (Optional: put the strata under the broiler on low setting before removing from the oven just to brown the top a bit more.)

Serve warm, drizzled with a bit of olive oil and a sprinkling of chopped fresh oregano.

Serves 6.


Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni

We’re on Week 2 of what seems like constant snowfall. At least five inches fell about 10 days ago. Then eight inches fell last week. Another two inches or so fell today. Yesterday afternoon, I rushed out to the store with the rest of St. Louis to stock up on bread, milk, eggs, and — ahem — cannelloni noodles.

When it snows, we stay in. Gabi started walking last month. She’s not exactly ready to go bounding out into the snow. So, we spend a lot of  time pointing at it from inside.  Today, while Jeff and Gabi played in the living room, I cooked. I baked cinnamon raisin bread (post will follow later this week). I took my second stab at vanilla yogurt. And, I make this spinach cannelloni for dinner.

I’ve been thinking about this dish since summer. I bought this Jamie Oliver cookbook when the weather was quite hot — too hot for cannelloni.  It’s been in my head ever since. There are several reasons to try this one. First, this is a pretty simple cannelloni recipe. No bechamel sauce is necessary. Boiling the noodles isn’t either. And, the end result is wonderful in every way. The cannelloni is warm, melty, delicious. The noodles are a bit crispy on top. The spinach and ricotta make a light and super yummy filling. On a snow day like today — it is perfect.

Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni
adapted from Jamie’s Dinners: The Essential Family Cookbook

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
handful of fresh oregano or marjoram, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon nutmeg, grated
8 large handfuls spinach (about 3 large bunches), thoroughly washed
handful of fresh basil, stalks reserved and chopped, leaves torn
28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes, chopped, juice reserved
salt and freshly ground pepper
pinch of sugar
15 ounces ricotta cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
16 cannelloni tubes
7 ounces mozzarella, broken up

For the white sauce
1 cup creme fraiche
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Find baking pan large enough to fit cannelloni in one layer, if possible.

In a medium saucepan, heat butter on high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil, one of the sliced garlic cloves, a handful of the chopped oregano or marjoram, and the nutmeg. Saute for about 2 minutes. Add spinach in batches. Use tongs to turn it over, and add more as it cooks down.

Cook spinach for 5 minutes. Then, put the spinach into a large bowl and allow it to cool. Return the pan to heat, add a bit of olive oil, the other clove of sliced garlic, basil stalks and the chopped tomatoes. Pour tomato juice from the can into the pan. Add about a cup of water. Bring to boil. Turn the heat down, add a pinch of salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar. Simmer for about 10 minutes, until you have a loose tomato sauce. Take the pan off the heat and add the basil leaves.

Squeeze excess water from the spinach, but keep the liquid in the bowl. Finely chop the spinach and put it back into the bowl. Mix it with the liquid.  Add the ricotta and 1/2 cup Parmesan, stir to combine. Fill the cannelloni with the spinach mixture. You can do this with a piping bag, or fill a plastic sandwich bag, twist the bag so the filling is pushed into on corner,  cut a hole in the corner and squeeze. Or, use your fingers to stuff the noodles.

Pour the tomato sauce into the baking dish. Put the filled cannelloni on top of the sauce. Arrange in one layer so the noodles are snug.

To make the white sauce, mix together the creme fraiche and the cup of Parmesan with a pinch of salt and pepper. Loosen the sauce with a little water until you can spoon it over the cannelloni. Sprinkle withremaining Parm and te mozzarella pieces, and back for about 25 minutes, until golden brown and bubbling.

Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 4


Turkish Lentil and Spinach Soup

I’m absolutely smitten with this soup. It’s the perfect cold-weather food, the kind that infuses your soul. It can cure whatever ails. At least, that was our hope last weekend. The three of us have had colds since October it seems. Gabi’s friends at daycare share with her, and she shares with us. It’s about to drive us mad. On Saturday, Jeff suggested a big batch of lentil soup and I couldn’t have agreed with him more.

I found this recipe about 10 years ago in Sundays at Moosewood — a cookbook I bought in college. Some of its pages are splattered.  Notations throughout the book mark my first experiments in the kitchen.   I’ve adapted the lentil soup here and there, adding more spice, more zing, and replacing fresh tomatoes with canned (it is winter, after all). The result is a thick, almost stew-like soup. The combination of onions, garlic, lentils, bulghur, tomatoes, parsley and spinach is truly addictive. I use a lot of rosemary here. Use more or less, according to your taste. A squeeze of lemon at the end enhances it all.

I made a double batch of this on Saturday. I’ve been known to triple the recipe and put half of it in freezer bags. My freezer and I have become best buds this past year. I’ve come to learn that good food doesn’t have to be made TODAY. It could be made last month. In the case of this lentil soup, it could be made six weeks ago, thawed, heated, and inhaled.  If you make one thing from this blog, make this soup.

Continue reading ‘Turkish Lentil and Spinach Soup’


Spanish Chickpea and Chorizo Soup

After a few slurps I was smitten. This soup may not win any beauty contests, but it’s everything a cool weather soup should be: hearty, comforting, nutritious, and it smells outrageously good.

This comes from Jamie Oliver. It’s got a pound of spinach, a load of tomatoes, chickpeas, chorizo and proscuitto. A roughly chopped hard boiled egg is sprinkled on top. There is a bit chopping involved, but the smokey spiciness of the soup makes it worth the effort . I found this soup at just the right time. It’s suddenly quite chilly outside. And last week, Gabi brought home her first full-blown daycare cold. She came down with it Monday. I got it Wednesday. By Friday, Jeff had it. As most soups are, this one was good therapy for all three of us. It also gave Jeff and me the energy we needed last weekend to keep up with Miss G. She’s into everything, crawling like a cyclone. And boy, does she ever want to walk.

Yep. For now, we’re savoring the fact that she’s not there yet. And We’re also savoring this soup. The double batch I made over the weekend should last us all week.

Spanish Chickpea and Chorizo Soup
slightly adapted from Jamie’s Dinners

Olive oil
5 1/2 ounces chorizo sausage, finely chopped
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
1 pound fresh spinach [I used 3/4 pound], washed and chopped
8 fresh tomatoes, seeded and roughly chopped [if they’re out of season, use canned whole tomatoes, a 28-ounce can. I used a combination of both]
1 14-ounce can or jar of good-quality cooked chickpeas, drained
5 cups chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces proscuitto, Spanish ham or pata negra, finely chopped
2 hard-boiled eggs, roughly chopped

Put about two tablespoons of olive oil into a large pot and add the chorizo. Allow to heat up and cook for a couple of minutes until the fat comes out of the chorizo, then add onion, garlic and celery. Reduce the heat and cook slowly for 15 minutes with a lid on and without coloring the onions. Now take the lid off — the smell and color will be fantastic. Stir it around and get some color happening now. Add your spinach. tomatoes, chickpeas and chicken stock. Bring to the boil, the lower the heat and simmer for around 40 minutes.

At this point you can remove about a third of the mixture and puree it in a food processor. Pour it back into the pot, give it a good stir and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and stir in the proscuitto or ham and 2 or 3 tablespoons of good olive oil. Divide into bowls and sprinkle some hard boiled egg on top. The egg adds a lovely richness to it.

Serves 4


Thai Shrimp and Spinach Curry

This meal illustrates why I love to cook. It was a new recipe. I hoped it would satisfy a craving. And it did.

On top of that, it was quick to make and required little effort. It filled the house with the smell of coconut milk and the warmth of red curry. The spinach, carrots and red pepper made it a beautiful meal. As far as taste? Delicious.

About 10 years ago, I began exploring ingredients and cooking techniques while living in Little Rock, Ark. The city has a fantastic farmers’ market, one of the best I’ve seen anywhere. But it sorely lacks when it comes to ethnic restaurants. When I wanted Indian food, many times I ended up cooking it myself. The same went for Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. If only I’d found this recipe then.

The quality of the curry paste you use could determine the degree of awesome-ness. I used red because I love it so. Red and green curry paste can be found in the international or Asian aisle of most supermarkets. If you live near an Asian or international market, see if they carry Mae Ploy. I highly recommend it.

Thai Shrimp and Spinach Curry
Gourmet Today

1 (13- to 14-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk, chilled (do not stir or shake)
1 1/2 to 2  teaspoons Thai green or red curry paste
1 pound medium shrimp (31-35 per pound), peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced
3/4 pound spinach (1 large bunch), tough stems discarded
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Accompaniment: jasmine or basmati rice

Spoon about 1/3 cup of thick coconut cream from top of coconut milk (set remaining coconut milk aside) into a large heavy skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add curry paste and cook, whisking, for 1 minute. Add shrimp and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until the begin to turn pink, 1 to 2 minutes. Add remaining coconut milk and fish sauce, bring to a summer, and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until shrimp are just cooked through, about 1 minute. Transfer shrimp with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Add carrots and bell pepper to sauce and simmer for 5 minutes. Add spinach tin batches, stirring until each batch is wilted. Return shrimp to skillet and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute.

Sprinkle cilantro on the curry and serve with rice.


Meat and Grain Burgers

Jeff is about to start training for the Kansas City marathon. His 10-plus mile runs on the weekends — and my occasional 3-milers with Gabi in the jogging stroller — require more complex carbs and lean protein than we’ve been getting.

We found this recipe while leafing through Runner’s World, of all places. It came from Mark Bittman, a New York Times food writer and  fellow runner. We no sooner saw it than were trotting out to the deck with a plate full of burgers to grill. Cumin, cayenne and garlic kicked them up a notch. Onion, whole grain and spinach made them even more delicious, and can you get any healthier? We used beef, but ground turkey or lamb would be equally as delicious.

This meal was budget friendly, too. The addition of bulgur and spinach made six good sized burgers out of one pound of ground meat. We had these burgers two nights in a row, and then ate the leftovers for lunch Monday. Yum!

My only quibble: a couple of the burgers didn’t stick together well. Two fell apart when Jeff flipped them on the grill.  Maybe a larger egg would have helped? Fattier meat? Regardless, I highly recommend this one.

Continue reading ‘Meat and Grain Burgers’


Spinach Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette

Finally, some sun. After what seemed like month of rain here in St. Louis, it was dry enough this morning to get in the garden and pick some spinach.

Rows of spinach, red leaf, butter crunch and other lettuces are growing like crazy. We don’t have a large garden — it’s about 10 feet by 10 feet. It’s large enough to grow a few week’s worth of greens, about five tomato plants, carrots, radish, and summer squash. I’m undecided about summer squash and eggplant this year, last summer’s attempt was a heart breaking experience. I ended up with one 7-pound zucchini, one baby eggplant and that was it!

Continue reading ‘Spinach Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette’


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